Estate disputes are contentious. It is rare that there is an agreed set of facts let alone consensus on how the law applies to the facts. Estate litigators, unlike district attorneys or public defenders who prosecute or defend criminals, both prosecute and defend civil claims made by or against estate participants. Given this background as an estate litigator I can say with certainty that estate disputes invariably involve the determination of truth. At its best these disputes are fights over interpretation - at its worst estate fights are fueled by lies.
We have often written about how we challenge estate liars. So how do we defend against claims that our clients are lying? We start off with the maxim that the truth really will set you free. So let's start with the truth.
We ask that our clients tell us the whole story. What is told to us is shared under the attorney-client privilege. What is told to us stays with us. In appropriate circumstances we make clear that we will not sanction a fraud. In the same way we make clear that we will aggressively defend against spurious claims that have been made against our clients and need to be rebutted.
We've practiced law long enough to see that inventions of wrongdoing against a decedent can be particularly challenging when all of the living witnesses are gone. It sometimes seems that there are people who find allegations of "somebody done me wrong" a liar's paradise for vindictiveness.
No one likes a liar. While it may be a challenge to ferret out liars, it is a challenge regularly faced - and met - in estate litigation.